Project Eagle Ray Identification

Kuramathi Island Resort is one of the first resorts to open in the Maldives and is part of Universal Resorts of Universal Enterprises Private Ltd, a 100% Maldivian owned company, and the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives.

Ari Atoll in the Maldives is blessed to boast sublime interactions with the wild once you take the plunge into the deep blue. From Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks in the North Ari Atoll, to the grinning giant Whale Sharks in the far South Ari Atoll; it has garnered a reputation as a diver's paradise. Kuramathi is lucky to be sited in Rasdhoo Atoll, the northern most part of the Ari Atoll and is home to an array of magnificent aquatic life only seen while diving.

The Spotted Eagle Ray, Aetobatus narinari, belonging to the family of Eagle and Manta Rays (Myliobatidae), is frequently found in the waters of Rasdhoo Atoll. As not much is known about the population dynamics and migration patterns of this ray species we wish to find out more about these mysterious creatures with the help of our guests. Aetobatus narinari are easily identifiable by the numerous white spots and ring patterns against their dark blue or black dorsal site, which are as individual for each animal as a human fingerprint.

In cooperation with Rasdhoo Atoll Divers and the Aqua Sports and Fun (http://www.kuramathi.com/recreation/aqua-sports-fun.html) Centre, the Eco Centre (http://www.kuramathi.com/environment/eco-centre.html) Kuramathi has established an eagle ray ID project, which is the first of its kind in the Maldives. As the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an organization that establishes the conservation status of species worldwide has listed the global population of Spotted Eagle Rays as "near threatened" (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39415/0), it is crucial to learn more about these elasmobranchs. By taking high resolution pictures of the entire dorsal side (back) of the animal, showing clearly the spot and ring patterns from head to tail and one wing to the other, our guests can actively contribute to increase our understanding of eagle rays. The estimated size of the animals seen, from head to end of tail and from the right to the left wing tip are important information, too. Additional information such as date, time and location of the encounter, depth of the animal, behaviour and number of animals, water conditions (current, temperature, visibility) and weather condition are as well needed to get an overall picture of behaviour and biology of this ray species.

Often, they are seen on our own house reef, or on dive sites like Rasdhoo, North Channel and even the famed Madivaru. Participation of this project is simple; all one needs to do is flick a shot of an entire eagle ray focusing on the white spots and rings on its back which should be clearly visible, as this pattern is how the Eagle Ray is in fact identified!

Join us in making this project a success, by helping us discover more about this fascinating marine animal! For more information about this project, send us an email to Dr. Frauke Bagusche at marine.biology@kuramathi.com.


Note to Editors:
Kuramathi (http://www.kuramathi.com/) is one of the first resorts to open in the Maldives and is part of Universal Resorts of Universal Enterprises Private Ltd, a 100% Maldivian owned company, and the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives.

An emerald jewel in the turquoise Maldivian waters, Kuramathi is a stunning island retreat with acres of luxuriant vegetation surrounded by spectacular beaches tapering into an endless sandbank. Villas blend contemporary design and nature, and are set on the beach, amongst lush gardens or over water. Four poster beds, open-air bathrooms, rainfall showers or Jacuzzi, large outdoor decks with inviting daybeds or sun loungers, are just some of the creature-comforts enjoyed by our guests. Dining options are diverse with many restaurants, bars and great-value all inclusive packages, topped off with Maldivian service - welcoming, genuine and friendly.

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